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Kent State, Cleveland State collaborate to celebrate former president Michael Schwartz

The Kent Stater Archives

The university gathered with Cleveland State University on Thursday to celebrate the legacy and life of Michael Schwartz, former president of the two universities. 

Schwartz was Kent State’s ninth president, serving from 1982 to 1991.

President Todd Diacon remembered Schwartz as the president of Kent State and Cleveland State and said throughout his life, Schwartz fought for higher education. 

“Michael Schwartz is the president of two great public universities in Northeast Ohio,” Diacon said during the ceremony. “Until the end of his life, he promoted learning for learning’s sake. He promoted access, he promoted opportunity. He defended the power of a liberal arts education.” 

During his time as president, he did many things, such as contribute to the creation of the May 4 memorial site. In addition, Schwartz was influential in many people’s lives, and especially students. 

Bill Bowen, a professor of urban studies and public administration at Cleveland State, said Schwartz emphasized the importance of learning to students.

“Michael told the students that to be sure they were here at CSU to acquire skills for the workplace, but also he told them they were here to learn independently on their own, so they could become more mobile on the job market and could enable themselves to be life-long learners,” Bowen said during the ceremony.  

Bowen said Schwartz had a drive to ensure students knew they had a duty in their life after college. 

“He was very interested in making sure they [students] understood they had a responsibility in the collective life of the public sphere,” Bowen said. 

Curt Bogen, an attorney and a friend of Schwartz, said Schwartz had an influence on Kent State and students in addition to being his friend. 

“He was my friend and a great man,” Bogen said in an email. “Wonderful for the university and all about the students.” 

Sonali Wilson, vice president of legal affairs and compliance and a general counsel and board secretary member at Cleveland State, said her and Schwartz formed a close alliance soon after they met. 

“From the very beginning we forged a very strong bond and relationship,” Wilson said in the ceremony. 

Wilson thanked Schwartz for providing her new opportunities that led to the life she has now. 

“I can thank him for what has become the privilege of my life,” she said. 

Kenneth Schwartz, son of Michael Schwartz, remembered how his father was family-oriented and cared deeply for his loved ones. 

“He was passionate about his family,” Kenneth Schwartz said. “He was deeply interested in every success and challenge of his kids and grandkids. He was always quick to cheer us on, he was always quick for some much needed advice

“One of my father’s last requests was for a celebration of life.”

Bowen said in addition to the celebration, Schwartz wanted the celebration to be joyful, and explained despite Schwartz’s passing, he believes Schwartz’s legacy lives on from within. 

“He wanted this to be a happy event,” Bowen said. “He’s no longer with us in body, but he’s certainly alive in my heart.”

MinJee Yoo is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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